Thursday 1 August 2019
Next decade the most crucial part of the journey to a safe climate future - Generation Zero tells environment select committee
Youth climate change campaigners Generation Zero, submitting at environment select committee, says that the next decade is the most crucial part of the journey to a safe climate future, and that the Zero Carbon Bill must reflect the urgency of the climate crisis.
“If we want to give ourselves a chance at a safe future, the next decade is crucial” said Lisa McLaren, National Convenor for the Zero Carbon Act. “And if we continue to dither, the entire cost of the climate crisis will fall on the next generation - and that is unjust.”
“New Zealand’s carbon emissions are currently forecast to continue increasing until the mid-2020s. This is utterly unacceptable,” said James Young-Drew, Policy Lead. “Long-term thinking is important. But we need to get on with the job of cutting emissions, and cutting them immediately.”
“The climate science is clear that limiting global warming to 1.5C means halving carbon emissions by 2030. What’s more, the Productivity Commission has found that delaying action will increase the difficulty and cost of transitioning to a zero carbon economy.”
“Failing to act decisively in the next decade will not only blow our carbon budget and worsen climate impacts, it will mean that young and future generations of New Zealanders will face a bigger, more difficult challenge to cut emissions”.
“Failing to act puts the entire responsibility and cost of climate change on future generations, for a problem they had no hand in creating. This is an intergenerational injustice.”
GENERATION ZERO’S SUBMISSION ON THE ZERO CARBON BILL
Generation Zero’s 32-page submission on the on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill is available here: https://zerocarbonact.nz/assets/Uploads/ZCB-Select-Committee-submission-July-2019.pdf
The Foreword of the submission reads as follows:
When we started drafting our Zero Carbon Act policy blueprint in 2016, we did not dare to imagine that our idea would attract so much attention, or unite so many different groups.
In hindsight, it is not at all surprising that our zero carbon vision for a safe, just and thriving Aotearoa New Zealand has resonated with people around the country.
In the space of a 3 year campaign, the Zero Carbon Act concept has been supported by youth parties from across the political spectrum, by dozens of organisations and NGOs, by two successive Parliamentary Commissioners for the Environment, by businesses and business interests (including a unanimous resolution of support for Generation Zero’s blueprint at the 2017 Australia/NZ Climate Change & Business Conference), and by thousands of individuals.
For young kiwis, the Zero Carbon Act proposal is of particular importance. Some of us have spent our entire existence living in a time of escalating climate crisis. This is, literally, our lives. Many of us are now doubting whether to have children of our own. Scarily, we realise that future generations will be subject to even harsher climate impacts than those we will endure.
So we congratulate Parliament for voting the Zero Carbon Bill through its First Reading by an overwhelming majority (119-1). The Bill contains most of the key components we set out in our Zero Carbon Act blueprint, and which led to its widespread support. These include setting science-based targets, establishing an expert Climate Commission, and requiring the Government to prepare comprehensive policy plans to cut emissions and protect communities from climate impacts.
However, the Bill remains half-baked in many respects. This submission contains our recommended changes to ensure that the Bill does the job it needs to do. These include honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi, properly aligning the Bill’s science-based targets with its 1.5°C purpose, and eliminating various loopholes and missteps that undermine its coherence and accountability mechanisms.
Generation Zero is a volunteer organisation. We have put countless hours into this work. We are willing to sacrifice our time because climate change is real, and it is terrifying.
We believe that there is still an opportunity to avoid the worst effects of climate change, if we have the courage to act quickly and cooperatively.
This Bill represents the first crucial step on Aotearoa New Zealand’s journey to a safe, just and thriving, zero carbon future.
It is also a symbol of whether or not this Parliament takes climate change seriously, and whether kiwis, particularly young kiwis, can trust that their political leaders are capable of working together on the biggest issue of our time.
Our Zero Carbon Act is now in your hands.
Please don’t #!@% it up.
Yours, Generation Zero”
ABOUT THE ZERO CARBON ACT
History of the Zero Carbon Act
The Zero Carbon Act framework, developed by Generation Zero in 2016, has been steadily gaining support throughout the last three years. Most major political parties have indicated support for some of the key elements of the act.
The Zero Carbon Act also has support from environmental groups such as Forest & Bird and WWF-New Zealand, 14 leading New Zealand aid agencies including Oxfam NZ, businesses such as Z Energy, and youth political parties including the Young Nats, Young Labour, Young Greens, Young New Zealand First and Young Māori Party. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright’s final report also recommended the policy framework of the Zero Carbon Act, and the concept has received backing from organisations such as Dairy NZ, Westpac, and BNZ.
On 12 October 2017, attendees at the Australia/NZ Climate Change & Business Conference in Auckland, including representatives from the business sector, NGOs, and central and local government, unanimously passed a resolution in support of the concepts outlined in Generation Zero’s Zero Carbon Act proposal.
What is the Zero Carbon Act?
The Zero Carbon Act is a legal framework based on the UK’s Climate Change Act 2008. It requires governments to reduce New Zealand’s emissions year-on-year and plan towards a long-term target: zero net emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases by 2050 or sooner, and significant reductions on biogenic methane, in line with the IPCC’s 1.5°C report.
How does it work?
The Zero Carbon Act will require future governments to set a pathway of five year ‘carbon budgets’ on track to the zero carbon target and produce clear plans to meet these. It will establish an independent Climate Commission to provide expert advice on targets and policies and to monitor the Government’s progress.
Will it do anything else?
The Act will also require the government to prepare a National Climate Risk Assessment and a National Adaptation plan to address these climate risks, which include sea level rise, droughts and extreme weather events.
How is it different from the UK’s Act?
A key difference from the UK model is the introduction of a ‘two baskets approach’ for the different greenhouse gases. Short-lived gases (such as methane) do not need to go to zero and will have separate targets under the Zero Carbon Act. Another difference proposed by Generation Zero is that the targets in the Zero Carbon Act will apply to domestic emissions only (the ‘firewall principle’), and thus prohibit the use of international carbon credits. For more information: https://zerocarbonact.nz/
About Generation Zero
Generation Zero is a nationwide, volunteer, youth-led organisation formed in 2011 to champion solutions for a zero carbon Aotearoa New Zealand. www.generationzero.org